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Demonstrating a sense of giving that is "beyond his years".

People and Animal Learning Services (PALS), is dedicated to providing therapeutic horseback riding, animal care and pet encounter therapy to children and adults with physical, learning, cognitive or emotional disabilities. Because of their special needs clientele, they are conscientious with the staff they hire, and select leaders in the community to help maintain the success of the program.

Volunteer Ben Slinkard Ben Slinkard leads a horse during a session at PALS Ben Slinkard has been a PALS volunteer for a year and comes to the barn multiple days a week, on top of his commitments as a student at Bloomington High School North. Ben serves as a horse leader and side walker for riders with disabilities, helping them make the most of their time with the horses, to improve their physical and emotional well-being. His cheerful and fun attitude always gives the riders a sense of comfort and security as they ride.

During the times when he is not leading a horseback riding session, he reaches out to other volunteers to see where he can help in order to make the most of his time spent at the barns.

His work ethic is very strong for any volunteer, but for his age, he demonstrates a maturity that is "beyond his years," according to his nominator and PALS head instructor Jennifer Lung. She adds that "Ben displays the traits of patience, perseverance, gentleness and professionalism which are vital to our mission." PALS and the City of Bloomington, Indiana are pleased to have an outstanding young person be so committed to a cause that provides therapeutic opportunities to those in need.

Find out how you can get involved as a volunteer for PALS here.